Red Sox promote 2021 draft picks Nathan Hickey, Niko Kavadas to High-A Greenville

With infielder Alex Binelas and catcher Stephen Scott earning promotions to Double-A Portland on Friday, the Red Sox also promoted first-base prospect Niko Kavadas and catching prospect Nathan Hickey from Low-A Salem to High-A Greenville, per the club’s minor-league transactions log.

Kavadas, 23, was originally selected by the Sox in the 11th round of last year’s amateur draft out of the University of Notre Dame. The Indiana native came into his first full professional season ranked by FanGraphs as the No. 28 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

In 59 games with Salem this year, the left-handed hitting Kavadas batted .286/.453/.609 (188 wRC+) with 18 doubles, one triple, 14 home runs, 48 RBIs, 35 runs scored, one stolen base, 54 walks, and 70 strikeouts over 254 plate appearances. Ten of his 14 homers have come in the month of June.

Among qualified Carolina League hitters this season, Kavadas ranks second in walk rate (21.3%), first in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, first in OPS (1.062), first in isolated power (.323), and first in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, Kavadas has seen all his playing time as a pro come at first base. He should help fill the gap left behind by Binelas in Greenville.

Hickey, meanwhile, was selected by Boston in the fifth round of last year’s amateur draft out of the University of Florida. The Jacksonville native is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 23 prospect in the Sox’ farm system, which ranks tops among catchers in the organization.

With the Salem Sox this season, the left-handed hitting Hickey slashed .271/.429/.507 (160 wRC+) to go along with 12 doubles, seven home runs, 39 runs driven in, 31 runs scored, 39 walks, and 39 strikeouts across 41 games spanning 182 trips to the plate.

Among qualified catchers at the Low-A level, Hickey ranks first in walk rate (21.4%), first in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, first in OPS (.936), second in isolated power (.236), and first in wRC+, according to FanGraphs.

Defensively, the 6-foot, 210 pound backstop has logged 227 2/3 innings behind the plate so far this season and has thrown out three of a possible 34 base stealers. In Greenville, he will join a group of catchers that includes Alex Erro and Jaxx Groshans.

(Picture of Nathan Hickey: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

Red Sox catching prospect Nathan Hickey has homered 3 times in last 3 games for Low-A Salem

Another member of the Salem Red Sox who has been tearing it up at the plate as of late is catcher Nathan Hickey.

In Salem’s 8-7 loss to the Fredericksburg Nationals at Carilion Clinic Field on Tuesday night, Hickey — batting cleanup — went 1-for-4 with two RBIs, two runs scored, two strikeouts, and one walk.

His lone hit was a clutch game-tying, two-run home run in the ninth inning. Although Salem ultimately fell to Fredericksburg in extras, Hickey extended his hitting streak to six consecutive games and is continuing on with a productive month of June.

Since the calendar flipped from May, Hickey is batting a stout .295/.418/.614 with five doubles, three home runs, 18 RBIs, 10 runs scored, 10 walks, and 11 strikeouts over his last 12 games and 55 trips to the plate.

On the 2022 campaign — which is also his first full professional season — as a whole, the left-handed hitter has slashed .278/.437/.526 to go along with 12 doubles, seven homers, 39 runs driven in, 30 runs scored, 38 walks, and 37 punchouts across 39 games (174 plate appearances) with Salem.

Among qualified Carolina League Hitters, Hickey ranks 16th in batting average, third in on-base percentage, fifth in slugging percentage, fourth in OPS (.963), fifth in isolated power (.248), and second in walk rate (21.8%), per MiLB.com’s leaderboards.

Defensively, Hickey has unsurprisingly seen all his playing time this season come behind the plate when not serving as Salem’s designated hitter. The 6-foot, 210 pound backstop has now logged 209 2/3 innings behind the plate in 2022 and has allowed six passed balls while throwing out three of a possible 34 base stealers.

Hickey, 22, was selected by the Red Sox in the fifth round of last year’s amateur draft out of the University of Florida. Unlike his college teammate Jud Fabian, the former Gator signed with the club for $1 million last August.

A native of Jacksonville, Fla. himself, Hickey is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 23 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks tops among catchers in the organization.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, which was written by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Hickey is “far from a sure bet to stay behind the plate, where he lacks agility and technical polish when both receiving and blocking. While he has solid arm strength, he ended his 2021 college season at third base.”

Speier also noted that Hickey, who does not turn 23 until November, “may move more deliberately than other college players with his offensive profile given the need to develop behind the plate, but he’ll be given every chance to develop into a bat-first everyday catcher. If he can’t stay at the position, he could fit in a corner.”

Taking that into consideration, it remains to be seen if Hickey will work his way to High-A Greenville at some point this summer or will instead stick with Salem for the rest of the season. Only time will tell.

(Picture of Nathan Hickey: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

Red Sox power-hitting prospect Blaze Jordan continues to stay hot for Low-A Salem

Somewhat fittingly, Red Sox infield prospect Blaze Jordan was included in Baseball America’s latest Hot Sheet for his performance in Low-A Salem’s series against the Delmarva Shorebirds last week.

In six games at Carilion Clinic Field, Jordan went 13-for-26 (.500) at the plate with one triple, three home runs, nine RBIs, six runs scored, one stolen base, one walk, and two strikeouts.

The right-handed hitter is now riding a 10-game hitting streak and, on the 2022 season as a whole, is batting a respectable .291/.343/.467 (124 wRC+) with 18 doubles, two triples, six homers, 37 runs driven in, 34 runs scored, two stolen bases, 16 walks, and 43 strikeouts over 57 games spanning 248 trips to the plate.

Among qualified Carolina League hitters, Jordan currently ranks eighth in strikeout rate (17.3%), 10th in batting average, 12th in slugging percentage, 19th in OPS (.810), 19th in isolated power (.176), and 21st in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Jordan has seen playing time at both corner infield spots so far this season. Coming into play on Tuesday, the 6-foot-2, 220 pounder has logged 297 innings and committed three errors at the hot corner and has logged 136 1/3 innings at first while committing four errors there.

Still just a teenager who does not turn 20 until late December, Jordan is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect — as well as the best power hitter — in Boston’s farm system. The Mississippi native was originally taken by the Sox in the third round of the 2020 amateur draft out of DeSoto Central High School. He forewent his commitment to Mississippi State University by signing with the club for $1.75 million.

While Jordan has the potential to emerge as a top-100 prospect for years to come, the Red Sox are likely to take their time when it comes to his development given his age. With that, it would not be surprising if he were to spend the rest of the 2022 campaign in Salem, though a late-season promotion to High-A Greenville certainly cannot be ruled out.

In addition to Jordan, fellow Red Sox prospects Niko Kavadas and Eddinson Paulino were also named to Baseball America’s Hot Sheet since they, too, had monster series against Delmarva.

(Picture of Blaze Jordan: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

Red Sox’ Eddinson Paulino named to MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Week

Not to be overshadowed by the likes of Niko Kavadas or Blaze Jordan, Red Sox infield prospect Eddinson Paulino was named to MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Week on Monday.

Representing second-base prospects across Minor League Baseball, Paulino went 12-for-25 (.480) with two doubles, two triples, two home runs, seven RBIs, eight runs scored, five stolen bases, six walks, and two strikeouts in Low-A Salem’s latest six-game series against the Delmarva Shorebirds at Carilion Clinic Field.

Paulino, 19, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 19 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally signed the Dominican-born infielder as an international free-agent for $205,000 on his 16th birthday in 2018.

With 2022 marking his first full season in pro ball, Paulino got off to a rocky start with Salem by posting a wRC+ of 77 in the month of April. Since the calendar flipped to May, however, the left-handed hitter has turned a corner offensively by slashing a stout .299/.399/.518 (154 wRC+) with 14 doubles, three triples, four homers, 21 runs driven in, 37 runs scored, 12 stolen bases, 26 walks, and 28 strikeouts over his last 41 games and 193 trips to the plate.

Among qualified Carolina League hitters this season, Paulino now ranks first in doubles (18), second in triples (8), second in runs scored (48), 14th in RBIs (32), ninth in walks drawn (32), 16th in strikeout rate (18.5%), 21st in stolen bases (13), 21st in batting average (.267), 27th in on-base percentage (.360), 11th in slugging percentage (.475), 13th in OPS (.835), 10th in isolated power (.208), eighth in speed score (8.7), and 15th in wRC+ (131), per FanGraphs.

On the other side of the ball, Paulino has understandably seen the majority of his playing time this year come at second base. But the 5-foot-10, 155 pounder has also played some third base and shortstop while logging a total of 46 defensive innings between left and center field.

Per his MLB Pipeline scouting report, Paulino possesses 50-grade speed “and displays good instincts on the bases. He has reliable hands and some twitchy athleticism but his quickness and average arm strength are a bit stretched at shortstop.”

Paulino, who turns 20 next month, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter unless he is otherwise added to Boston’s 40-man roster before then. As of now, it looks like the Red Sox would be taking a risk if they were to leave the Santiago native unprotected come late November.

That being said, there is still plenty of time left before the 2022 season comes to a close. Perhaps Paulino can use it to his advantage like he has already been doing in recent weeks.

(Picture of Eddinson Paulino: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

Red Sox’ Pedro Castellanos, Niko Kavadas earn Eastern League, Carolina League Player of the Week honors

A pair of Red Sox first-base prospects took home weekly honors from the respective leagues they play in. Earlier Monday afternoon, Minor League Baseball announced that Double-A Portland’s Pedro Castellanos and Low-A Salem’s Niko Kavadas were named Eastern League and Carolina League Players of the Week for the week of June 13-19.

Castellanos appeared in all six games of Portland’s most-recent series against the Reading Fightin Phils. In those six contests at FirstEnergy Stadium, the right-handed hitter went 12-for-28 (.429) at the plate with two doubles, one home run, five RBIs, two runs scored, zero walks, and four strikeouts.

By recording at least one hit in all six of those games, Castellanos extended his hitting streak to 16 consecutive games. On the 2022 campaign as a whole, the 24-year-old is batting .283/.307/.465 (109 wRC+) with 16 doubles, one triple, eight homers, 42 RBIs, 22 runs scored, seven walks, and 52 strikeouts over 58 games (244 plate appearances) for the Sea Dogs.

Among qualified Eastern League hitters this season, Castellanos ranks eighth in doubles, fourth in RBIs, ninth in batting average, 22nd in slugging percentage, 29th in OPS (.773), and 34th in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

Defensively, the 6-foot-3, 195 pounder has seen playing time at first base and both corner outfield positions this season. He has logged 257 1/3 innings at first, 26 innings in left, and 113 innings in right.

The Red Sox originally signed Castellanos for just $5,000 as an international free agent coming out of Venezuela in July 2015. Always known for his ability to hit for average, the Carora native is eligible to become a free agent again this winter.

Castellanos, who turns 25 in December, becomes the first member of the 2022 Portland Sea Dogs to earn Eastern League Player of the Week honors this year.

Kavadas, meanwhile, had a monster week for Salem in its series against the Delmarva Shorebirds at Carillion Clinic Field. Over the course of six games, the left-handed hitting slugger went 9-for-17 (.529) with three doubles, four homers, 11 RBIs, 10 runs scored, nine walks, and just seven punchouts.

Selected by Boston in the 11th round of last year’s draft out of the University of Notre Dame, Kavadas has enjoyed a moderate amount of success in his first full professional season. Following a 2-for-3 performance on Sunday, the 24-year-old is now slashing a stout .279/.456/.570 (182 wRC+) to go along with 17 doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 42 RBIs, 31 runs scored, one stolen base, 54 walks, and 68 strikeouts across 56 games (241 plate appearances) for the Salem Sox.

Among qualified hitters in the Carolina League this season, Kavadas ranks 15th in batting average, first in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, second in OPS (1.026), first in isolated power (.291), first in walk rate (22.4%), and first in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

On the other side of the ball, Kavadas has logged 343 innings at first base this year and has otherwise served as Salem’s designated hitter. The 6-foot-1, 235 pounder out of Granger, Ind. is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 44 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Given what he has done at the Low-A level this season, it seems like Kavadas could be on the verge of a promotion to High-A Greenville. He becomes the second member of the 2022 Salem Red Sox to earn Carolina League Player of the Week honors and joins fellow infielder Blaze Jordan by doing so.

(Picture of Pedro Castellanos: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox promote relief prospect Jacob Webb to High-A Greenville

The Red Sox have promoted relief prospect Jacob Webb to High-A Greenville, per the team’s minor-league transactions log. A spot on Greenville’s roster became available when fellow right-hander Brian Van Belle was promoted to Double-A Portland on Monday.

Webb, 23, was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 14th round of the 2021 amateur draft of Miami University and signed with the club for $122,500 last July. The Ohio native is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 57 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 26th among pitchers in the organization.

After closing out the 2021 campaign in Salem, Webb returned to the Red Sox for the start of his first full professional season. Leading up to Tuesday, the righty posted a 2.19 ERA and 3.33 FIP with 39 strikeouts to 19 walks over 18 relief appearances spanning 24 2/3 innings of work. He also converted three of a possible six save opportunities.

Among Carolina League pitchers who have accrued at least 20 innings on the mound so far this year, Webb ranks seventh in strikeouts per nine innings (14.23), 16th in strikeout rate (33.6%), 11th in swinging strike rate (18.3%), 18th in ERA, and 26th in FIP, per FanGraphs.

As indicated by his 16.4% walk rate, command has been an issue at times for Webb. Still, the stuff is there and it clearly played a factor into his promotion. Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the burly 6-foot-5, 245 pound hurler works with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 92-94 mph fastball, an 81-85 mph slider, and a changeup.

Now that he has been promoted to Greenville, Webb will join a Drive bullpen that includes the likes of Ryan Fernandez, Cody Scroggins, Casey Cobb, Devin Roedahl, Michael Gettys, Jacinto Arredondo, Robert Kwiatkowski, and Austin Lambright.

(Picture of Jacob Webb: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox prospects Victor Santos, Juan Daniel Encarnación earn Eastern League, Carolina League Pitcher of the Week honors

Red Sox pitching prospects Victor Santos and Juan Daniel Encarnacion have respectively been named the Eastern League and Carolina League Pitchers of the Week for the week of May 30-June 5, Minor League Baseball announced on Monday.

Santos made two appearances (one start) for Double-A Portland in its most recent series against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Delta Dental Stadium. In those two outings, the right-hander allowed one earned run on seven hits, three walks, and nine strikeouts over 12 total innings for the Sea Dogs.

On the 2022 campaign as a whole, Santos has posted a 3.94 ERA and 4.63 FIP with 42 strikeouts to 12 walks across 11 appearances (10 starts) spanning 61 2/3 innings with Portland. Among qualified Eastern League pitchers, the 21-year-old ranks sixth in walks per nine innings (1.75), seventh in walk rate (4.8%), 12th in batting average against (.232), seventh in WHIP (1.07), and first in innings pitched, per FanGraphs.

Originally acquired from the Phillies last July as the player to be named later in the trade that sent C.J. Chatham to Philadelphia, Santos is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the 51st-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot-1, 191 pound hurler from the Dominican Republic throws from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 90-92 mph fastball that tops out at 94 mph fastball, a 77-79 mph split changeup, and a 77-81 mph slider.

Santos, who turns 22 in July, can once again become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter. Because of that, he could be a prime candidate to pitch in the Arizona Fall League later this year.

Encarnacion, meanwhile, also made two appearances (one start) for Low-A Salem in its latest series against the Columbia Fireflies at Carillion Clinic Field. Over seven cumulative innings of work, the righty allowed no runs on just four hits and zero walks to go along with seven strikeouts.

In 10 outings (nine starts) with the Salem Sox this season, Encarnacion has produced a 4.01 ERA and 3.36 FIP with 49 punchouts to 12 walks across 42 2/3 innings. Among qualified pitchers in the Carolina League, the 21-year-old ranks eighth in strikeouts per nine innings (10.34), seventh in walks per nine innings (2.53), 10th in strikeout rate (27.2%), eighth in walk rate (6.7%), eighth in FIP, and ninth in xFIP (3.84), per FanGraphs.

The Red Sox originally signed Encarnacion for $40,000 as an international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in September 2018. The San Pedro de Macoris native is not yet regarded as one of the premier pitching prospects in Boston’s farm system, though he certainly possesses intriguing potential.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 173 pounds, Encarnacion throws from a three-quarters arm slot and works with a 90-93 mph fastball that reaches 94 mph, a 76-81 mph slider, and an 84-85 mph changeup, according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

Unlike Santos, Encarnacion — who does not turn 22 until next March — is not eligible for the Rule 5 Draft until the conclusion of the 2023 season. So there is still a ways to go there.

(Picture of Victor Santos: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata strikes out 2 in first start of rehab assignment

Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata officially began his rehab assignment with Low-A Salem on Saturday night.

Pitching in front of 3,971 spectators at Carillion Clinic Field, the right-hander allowed one unearned run on no hits, two walks, and two strikeouts over two innings of work in Salem’s 6-2 win over the Columbia Fireflies.

Of the 45 pitches Mata threw on Saturday, 27 went for strikes and nine were of the swing-and-miss variety. The 23-year-old reportedly topped out at 98 mph with his fastball.

Not including extended spring training, this marked Mata’s first in-game action since August 2019 and, more significantly, his first official minor-league appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery last April.

Originally signed by the Red Sox for just $25,000 as an international free agent coming out of Venezuela in January 2016, Mata is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 11 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks fifth among pitchers in the organization.

When healthy, many believed Mata had some of the best pure stuff in the system as he complemented his high-octane fastball with a changeup, a curveball, and a slider, among other offerings.

After tearing his ulnar collateral ligament and having his elbow reconstructed last spring, it remains to be seen if Mata will remain effective as a starter or will instead transition to a relief role at the next level. Either way, he still has a high ceiling.

Already a member of Boston’s 40-man roster, Mata will make his next start for High-A Greenville, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. He is expected to reach Triple-A Worcester by the time his rehab assignment comes to an end. At that point, the 6-foot-3, 229 pound hurler could be paired up with fellow righty Brayan Bello in the WooSox’ starting rotation.

Bello, the top pitching prospect in the Sox’ farm system, made his fourth start for Worcester since being promoted from Double-A Portland on May 17. The 23-year-old yielded three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out eight over five innings on Friday. His ERA with the WooSox now sits at 3.63.

Between Bello and Mata, the Red Sox have two extremely exciting young pitchers who have the chance to make their big-league debuts at some point this season. At the same time, Chaim Bloom and Co. will surely exhibit patience when it comes to the development of these two prospects as well those who fall behind them in the pipeline.

(Picture of Bryan Mata courtesy of the Salem Red Sox)

Red Sox outfield prospect Phillip Sikes homers twice, drives in 4 runs for Low-A Salem as impressive month of May rolls on

Red Sox outfield prospect Phillip Sikes had a monster game in Low-A Salem’s 8-2 win over the Fredericksburg Nationals at Virginia Credit Union Stadium on Wednesday night.

Batting eighth and starting in center field, Sikes went 3-for-4 at the plate with two home runs, one double, four RBIs, three runs scored, and one walk. He also picked up an outfield assist and helped turn an inning-ending double play by gunning down top Nationals prospect Brady House at first base in the bottom of the third.

Both of Sikes’ homers were solo shots that came off two different Nationals relievers in the fourth and sixth innings. His double came in the top half of the seventh and plated an additional two runs to lift Salem to their 21st win of the year.

After getting his first full professional season off to a rough start in April (73 wRC+), Sikes — like many in Salem’s lineup — has turned things around for the better in May. Following Wednesday’s performance, the right-handed hitter has slashed .265/.351/.592 (152 wRC+) with five doubles, one triple, three home runs, nine RBIs, nine runs scored, two stolen bases, five walks, and 15 strikeouts over 14 games (57 plate appearances) this month.

Defensively, Sikes has already seen playing time at all three outfield positions this year, logging 71 2/3 innings in left, 123 innings in center, and 40 innings in right. The 6-foot-2, 190 pounder recorded his second outfield assist of the season on Wednesday.

Back on May 4, Sikes made his professional debut as a pitcher in Salem’s 24-6 loss to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The right-hander needed just nine pitches (seven strikes) to toss a perfect ninth inning in what was his first appearance on a mound since 2019.

Sikes, 23, was selected by the Red Sox in the 18th round of last year’s draft out of Texas Christian University. The native Texan is not yet regarded by any major publication as one of the top prospects in Boston’s farm system, though he may be already be one of the quickest players in the organization.

According to FanGraphs, Sikes has posted a Speed Score of 8.3 this season. First developed by Bill James, Speed Score measures a player’s speed and baserunning ability on a 0 to 10 scale. Sikes’ 8.3 Speed Score, then, is quite good.

Among Carolina League hitters with at least 110 plate appearances under their belt in 2022, Sikes ranks 13th in Speed Score and 14th in isolated power (.194). Among minor-leaguers in the Red Sox organization who have made 110 or more trips to the plate, Sikes ranks fourth in Speed Score and 12th in isolated power, per FanGraphs.

Coming into play on Thursday, Sikes has multiple hits in three of his last seven games. He will look to keep things going as Salem goes for its fourth straight win beginning at 7:05 p.m. eastern time.

(Picture of Phillip Sikes via the Salem Red Sox)

MRI reveals Red Sox top prospect Marcelo Mayer has sprained wrist, but shortstop ‘is expected to resume baseball activities soon’

After being placed on Low-A Salem’s 7-day injured list last Friday, top Red Sox prospect Marcelo Mayer traveled to Boston over the weekend to undergo further testing on his sore right wrist.

An MRI revealed that Mayer had indeed sustained a sprain, Red Sox director of player development told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier on Tuesday. While there is no timetable for his return, the shortstop is expected to resume baseball activities in the very near future, per Speier and MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

Mayer was selected by Boston with the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft out of Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, Calif. The left-handed hitter has slashed .333/.386/.507 with 10 doubles, one home run, 13 RBIs, nine runs scored, four stolen bases, seven walks, and 23 strikeouts over 17 games (83 plate appearances) in his first full professional season with Salem.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 188 pounds, Mayer first began experiencing wrist soreness in late April, which led to him being sidelined for more than two weeks after playing against the Charleston RiverDogs on April 23.

Upon returning to Salem’s lineup on May 10, the soreness persisted and Mayer was limited to just four games before officially being placed on the injured list on May 20.

The 19-year-old is currently regarded by Baseball America as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system as well as the 12th-ranked prospect in all of baseball.

(Picture of Marcelo Mayer: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)